The Cardinals entered play today on pace for 95 losses, a shocking outlier year for a storied organization that claims a distant second place in all-time World Series titles. The Yankees came in hoping to take a series from the struggling club, but it didn’t start out well in today’s doubleheader opener. The Cardinals lit up Yankee pitching to take a commanding 11-0 lead by the end of the fifth, and after some garbage-time runs and two separate rain delays in the seventh and eighth, St. Louis won this one at last, 11-4.
Two relative vets took the mound today in Luis Severino and Jack Flaherty, and they started strong by trading zeroes for the first two innings. Tommy Edman took the wind out of the Yankees’ sails in the first inning, making a pretty sliding grab before doubling off DJ LeMahieu at first. Isiah Kiner-Falefa, hitting fifth today after his authoritative swings in Oakland, was also robbed of a hit when Dylan Carlson snared his screaming line drive in the second.
The Yankees stranded two runners in the third and things went south very quickly for Luis Severino in the bottom half. After two singles to open the inning, Jake Bauers made an excellent running grab for out number one, but that relief would be short-lived. Sevy left an 0-1 cement mixer in the nitro zone for Paul Goldschmidt and the former MVP winner took advantage, patiently waiting on it before driving it the opposite way for a three-run home run.
The slider was ineffective today to say the least. It feels as though Severino’s emphasis on the cutter is taking away from the effectiveness of his slider. The two pitches share similar feel and because he’s thrown so many cutters, Sevy appeared to have no feel on his slider, perhaps struggling to differentiate his mechanical cues on each one.
The Cardinals put up a five spot in the blink of an eye, and heading into the fifth inning, the score held at 5-0. It looked bad, but things got even worse. A long home run for Nolan Gorman made it 7-0 and Flaherty set the Yankees down easily in the top of the fifth.
Matt Krook was pressed into service as the 27th man relieving Severino, who allowed a double and a walk in the sixth before being yanked. Sevy just left too many pitches out over the plate to be successful. The slider was flat and he abandoned it by the fourth inning, but nothing was on the corners and his command was spotty. After a dominant quality start against arguably the best offense in baseball, Sevy was thoroughly drubbed by a scuffling ballclub. The Cardinals took advantage of his flat secondary pitches and kept the ball off the ground, elevating everything and spraying hits to all fields to great effect.
Krook did his job on his first hitter and got a firm groundball from Tommy Edman ripe for a double play, but Oswaldo Cabrera clanked it off his glove for a home-cooked RBI “single.” Andrew Knizner followed that up with a double scoring another two runs. The order flipped over to the top with zero outs on the scoreboard and no end in sight.
The first out mercifully came when Goldschmidt smacked a line drive to center that was run down by Kiner-Falefa for a sacrifice fly. Krook avoided further damage and when the dust settled, it was 11-0 Cardinals. Five innings in, this thing was not going swimmingly. Everyone was off today. The usually automatic Kyle Higashioka seemingly couldn’t get into a rhythm with a wild Krook and allowed an uncharacteristic passed ball.
In the home half of the sixth, Krook gloved a comebacker, turned to start the double play, and threw it into center field. That’s the kind of day it was. Albert Abreu entered the game after that and closed out the sixth painlessly, and the Yankees at least showed signs of life in the seventh. Cabrera slapped his second hit of the day to score Anthony Volpe and break the goose egg on the scoreboard.
The rain came and the tarp went on after the top half of the seventh, and two hours elapsed before play resumed. Nick Ramirez turned in a scoreless seventh, and Cardinals pitcher James Naile worked around a couple of walks to post a zero in the eighth.
As Josh Donaldson came out to pitch the home eighth, the umpires called for the tarp again. Another rain delay, because why not?
Play resumed after a sub-30 minute delay and Donaldson, who pitched a bit in college at Auburn, toed the rubber. He rushed it up there in the mid-80s and got some help from his defense to retire the side in order.
Volpe and Cabrera slapped consecutive singles to give them two and three hits on the day respectively. Both have scuffled offensively and they’ll need to produce if the Yankees are to pick up the slack with Aaron Judge limited to an observer. Higashioka then worked a walk to juice the bases with nobody out at which point LeMahieu rolled into a double play as a run scored. The skies opened up one last time with two outs; the third downpour of the game didn’t faze Bauers, who hit a towering 446-foot home run off Drew VerHagen to pull the Yankees within seven runs.
Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo worked consecutive walks to prolong VerHagen’s torture, and Kiner-Falefa grounded out to end the game — five and a half hours after first pitch. Buckle up, as there are nine more innings to go in the nightcap, which should begin around 8:30pm ET. Ian Hamilton will start as the opener in New York’s planned bullpen game, but Matthew Liberatore will pitch for St. Louis.